Students heading to campus gyms today will now have the opportunity to watch TV during their workout.

Though some updates, including new televisions, are now in place in University recreational facilities, Bill Canning, director of the Department of Recreational Sports, said the additions are just the “fingernail on the little finger of the whole hand.”

The Department of Recreational Sports received $1.6 million from the University’s Division of Student Affairs and the Office of the Provost in February 2010. The funding was used for 11 different projects, according to Canning.

Among the projects is the installation of flat-screen TVs in the IM Building, the North Campus Recreation Building and the Central Campus Recreation Building. The televisions at the NCRB have already been activated and the sets at the CCRB and IM building will be functional starting today, Canning said.

The TVs will be spread throughout the cardio workout areas in all three gyms, according to Canning. The workout machines will have receptors for headphones, allowing users to hear the audio feed from the TVs while using the machines.

Smaller projects include adding new lobby furniture in the IM Building and the NCRB. Additionally, artificial turf was placed on Elbel Field over the summer, and more than 90 new cardio machines were installed in all three facilities.

The last major recreational facilities improvement was done in 1976, when there were 28,000 students at the University. Currently, there are 42,000 students, and Canning said the recent renovations and upgrades were “absolutely necessary.”

He added that more needs to be done to better the University’s recreational facilities, including improving natural lighting, increasing capacity, replacing outdated equipment and creating more open spaces.

Michigan Student Assembly President DeAndree Watson said encouraging the University to improve recreational facilities is a high priority on the assembly’s agenda.

“Our facilities are no where close to the universities we compete with, including Ohio State,” Watson said.

A group of student leaders called the Core 20 — led by LSA senior Vivian Yu, chair of the Student Advisory Board, and LSA senior Jessica Kraft, president of the Club Sports Council — is working with a group of consultants to get information from students about their needs on campus, including what they’d like to see in recreational facilities.

The group’s initiative also includes garnering students’ views on improving University unions. The students plan to release a survey next month to develop a funding formula to address these needs.

“The three recreation buildings embody the student experience here at Michigan — what it means to be a student in and out of the classroom,” Yu said. “We are not at a capacity to serve the students as it is right now.”

LSA freshman Ryan Gaiss said he thinks improvements to recreational facilities will encourage more people to go to the buildings, including to cheer their friends on during intramural sports games.

“Having fans on the sidelines is a huge confidence booster,” Gaiss said. “It gives someone who’s competitive like me the urge to do as best as I can.”

Correction Appended: An earlier version of this story misidentified LSA senior Vivian Yu.

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